Arizona Governor Hard-Hearted Hattie… oops… Jan Brewer gained national attention last fall when she dropped 97 people who had been eligible for transplants under the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) off the list.
Arizona’s Death Panel quickly went viral– thanks to multiple news stories, including the front page of the New York Times, and open fund-raising for Arizona transplant patients on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann. The decision also secured the Scrooge of the Year title for Brewer.
Now, fast forward to February 2011, at least two of the transplant patients have died, waiting and hoping that the Arizona Legislature would change its mind and vote to fund transplants again. Although the Arizona transplant patients have become a cause celebre, they are by far not the only victims of Arizona’s Teapulbican government.
Brewer and her Legislative cronies want to knock everyone– 250,000+ adults– off of the AHCCCS list. Last summer, they wanted to shutdown the voter-initiated Kids’ Care program, which provides health care and early childhood development programs for small, low-income children, and steal the Kids Care money, but the voters said “no way” in the November 2010 election. The Legislature did cap enrollment for Kids Care, which now has a 90,000 (and growing) waiting list of children who have been denied AHCCCS coverage but may be eligible for Kids Care.
Now, I may sound hard-hearted here, but why would the Arizona Legislature care about 95 transplant patients when they don’t care what happens to 90,000 babies or 250,000 adults? Yes, all 95 of those people will most likely die without a transplant, but without health insurance coverage, a percentage of the 90,000 babies and 250,000 adults will also die or go undiagnosed and untreated.
When you’re on a Death Panel, you have to make tough decisions– like giving corporate tax breaks.
I was discussing this situation with a friend yesterday. He said, “All hell will break loose when the babies die by legislative decision.”
Arizona Legislators Anna Tovar (a former transplant patient) and Kyrsten Sinema (who voted to dump 250,000 people off AHCCCS) will hold a press conference and rally at the state capitol today, February 28, 2011, to draw attention to the 95 remaining transplant patients. I want to know why they are focusing on a small group of transplant patients and not on the 90,000 babies and 250,000 adults who need help.